Not too long ago, AI image generator DALL-E took the internet by storm. For the first time ever, anyone with a computer or a smartphone could suddenly generate images from text prompts, for free. Practically overnight, DALL-E went from a tech novelty to an internet sensation, with people tripping over each other to see who could come up with the most absurd creation (like Kayne West playing chess against a squirrel and Shrek as Kratos from God of War.)

However, it didn’t take long for ethical and legal concerns to surface. 

“To generate these seemingly unique photos of people, Lensa uses what’s called Stable Diffusion, a model “trained” to learn patterns through an online database of images called LAION-5B. Once the training is complete, it no longer pulls from those images but uses the patterns to create more content. It then “learns” your facial features from the photos you upload and applies them to that art.

The learning isn’t the concern for artists. The source of the knowledge is. LAION-5B pulls publicly available images from all over the internet — Google Images, DeviantArt, Getty Images, Pinterest, and so on. Dozens of artists have spoken out about not getting paid or credited for work that appears in the database. Some alleged that it is stealing.”

Kelsey Weekman, Buzzfeed News

While most of the headlines in 2022 focused on AI-generated imagery, AI-generated text wasn’t that far behind. Already, Microsoft has begun incorporating OpenAI technology into the Office Suite. For example, Microsoft could use the transcript from a teams meeting to automatically generate a summary of the meeting, which is a pretty nifty idea.

Again, the problem is, who actually owns the content, and how are they using it. And when it comes to SEO, those are important questions.

Should Roofers use AI-Generated Text?

For roofers, the allure of using AI-generated content is there. After all, finding a dependable writer who actually knows about the roofing industry, and can produce content for all of your page and blog needs, isn’t so simple. 

John Mueller, Google’s link to the outside SEO world, had this to say about AI-generated content:

“For us these would, essentially, still fall into the category of automatically generated content which is something we’ve had in the Webmaster Guidelines since almost the beginning.

And people have been automatically generating content in lots of different ways. And for us, if you’re using machine learning tools to generate your content, it’s essentially the same as if you’re just shuffling words around, or looking up synonyms, or doing the translation tricks that people used to do. Those kind of things.

My suspicion is maybe the quality of content is a little bit better than the really old school tools, but for us it’s still automatically generated content, and that means for us it’s still against the Webmaster Guidelines. So we would consider that to be spam.”

– John Mueller, Google, via Search Engine Journal

So long story short, if Google catches you using AI-generated text content on your website, they’ll penalize you for it. But can they always tell?

“I imagine like with any other of these technologies, there will be a little bit of a cat and mouse game, where sometimes people will do something and they get away with it, and then the webspam team catches up and solves that issue on a broader scale.”

– John Mueller, Google

If you’re depending on SEO to keep good leads flowing into your business, it’s probably not worth the risk. Especially since AI-generated content still isn’t free: just about every service in the space requires a monthly subscription, and those can add up quickly. 

Is There Any Way Roofers Can Benefit from AI-Generated Content?

Actually, yes. But not in the way you might expect.

“Expect a flood of low-quality, machine-generated content in 2023 and a corresponding pushback from Google. Whether this will be part of the Helpful Content system updates or something entirely new remains to be seen, but creating Machine Learning content that doesn’t look like ML content will likely (and sadly) become a new obsession of some corners of the SEO industry.”

Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

The best way that roofers can boost their SEO using AI-generated content is to avoid AI-generated content altogether. Once your competitors start abusing it, and getting penalized for it, that will just make your rankings that much stronger.